Growing Your Human Resource Assets

Growing Your Human Resource Assets 

Written by Jim Skiera

The most common growth limitation I hear from business owners is the difficulty they have recruiting new employees. Our tree care business clients, in general, have a backlog of work but are having difficulty finding enough skilled labor to meet the client’s need. As a result, most tree care companies are more likely competing for employees, (human resource assets), more than competing for work. To make recruiting even more difficult this challenge exists for most businesses. The most common sign seen today is “Now Hiring”.  

To be competitive in this tough labor market it is critical to view employees as assets. To retain and develop employees for the long term, offer to help them build a career rather than a job. When you have a team of employees that feel they are part of your business growth plan, you are building the best recruiting tool available. Set aside time to visit with each employee to discuss their career goals and help them develop a plan to achieve the goals.

The process should include identifying and developing new leaders. New leaders may be needed to replace someone retiring, a person who has been promoted, to fill a vacancy caused by turnover and or to fill a new leadership role created to expand the company. It’s a risk management strategy that increases the availability of prepared and qualified people as the business grows, adds new employees, new services and or loses a key employee. It’s also one of the best ways to retain, inspire and reward employees. Happy employees are great recruiters. 

No matter the size of your company, this activity starts at the top. Include employees in your succession planning discussions. Leadership is a learned skilled, preparing your people to lead is one of your most important duties. One of the most important skills to develop as a leader is your ability to listen. Model that skill and it will become part of your company culture.

Here are a series of steps to consider at least once a year to help you include employee development in succession planning to grow your business and human resource asset base. 

  • Identify critical positions in the company which require highly capable employees. If you are looking to expand include critical positions needed for that expansion.
  • Identify the most competent person for each specific critical position and what the consequence would be if that person were to leave, be promoted, and or become temporarily unavailable.
  • Identify people in the organization that are likely candidates to advance into those critical positions when the time comes. These transitions can be planned in the case of a promotion, or in the case of an emergency the company is prepared to minimize the impact.
  • Identify success profiles for all critical positions. If you are on top of this there should be job descriptions to review for this information. If not, that is a good first step to developing a success profile.
  • Create development plans for successors to ensure they are ready to assume future roles.
  • Develop employee development plans to address the gaps. Budget time and resources for leadership training.

Begin by getting your key players involved to help with identifying critical positions and highly capable people. At first people that haven’t been included in this type of discussion in the past may be threatened by the concept, it may appear you are getting ready to replace them. Communication needs to be handled well and if it is, you will find it is something that is welcomed. The process allows people to see benefits and opportunities that they might not have seen before, for themselves, others and the company. In time it will be a part of your culture and every employee will become a recruiter.

If you need additional help growing your human resource assets, check out ArboRisk’s Thrive Leadership Development Package! Our experts will work with your leaders one-on-one to build their leadership skills, thereby increasing team loyalty, efficiency, and profitability.

Recruit with Intent – Organizations

Recruit with Intent – Organizations

Since recruiting new employees to your company is typically one of the hardest parts about owning a tree care company, why not try to make that easier? There are so many creative ideas to recruit new employees that one article can not simply cover them all so I want to just focus on one very powerful way; intentionally recruiting within organizations

What I mean by organizations, are the membership based groups that are well established and have a mission to help their members. Your local ISA chapter, a military veteran organization, a local chamber of commerce are all examples of established organizations whose goal is to serve their members. 

Recruiting within organizations does not happen immediately, but when done correctly, will create a long pipeline of future employees for your company. To be successful, you need to create a positive relationship between your company and the organization. Volunteering your time and talents for the organization is the quickest way to provide value and begin to create a great relationship that will turn into a recruiting hot spot for you. 

Now with so many great organizations out there, how do you choose which one to invest in to see the best results? Below are the four areas that you should look at when assessing each organization that you are contemplating working with. 

          Members – You need to get a feel of what their membership demographic consists of. How many total members are there? What are the ages of the members? Does the organization know what the positions or titles of their members are? All of these questions will help you understand if your ideal employee is a part of this organization or not. 

          Events – The best way to meet a potential new hire may be in person, however, online events still can be valuable for recruiting. So ask the organizations what they have for events.  Are there any Job Fairs or specific hiring events? If so, how many potential employees come to them? How about informal networking events? What about any multi-day conferences? Think about creative ways you can get your company’s name and message out in front of prospective employees at the event. 

          Marketing – Learn how the organization communicates with its members. Gain an understanding by simply asking the organization if they send out a newsletter or email blast? Would you be able to write an article within their newsletter so prospective employees begin to see your name? Are there any sponsorship or advertising opportunities that you could engage in? The more your personal name and business name get promoted by the organization, the better reputation and more likely it is that new employees will come to you for their next job. 

     Leadership – Understanding who the centers of influence are within each organization is a critical task to choosing which organization to partner with. This isn’t necessarily apparent from looking at an organization’s website, so you’ll have to do some digging to find this out. Is there an Executive Director who is a full time position? If so, get to know them personally. Are there long-standing Board members or very influential members who provide advice and direction for the organization? Who is in charge of the events? Each of these questions will help identify who are the movers and shakers within the organization and are the ones you need to connect with to get in front of more new hires. 

Learning about these four areas for each organization will help determine which one you should focus on for recruiting efforts. As you know, a solid recruiting plan takes effort to build deep relationships, so do not try to get involved with too many organizations.

If you would like more help with Hiring & Recruiting for your tree care company, please contact ArboRisk today!

Written by: Eric Petersen

PEO’s vs. Worker’s Compensation

Professional Employer Organizations vs. Worker’s Compensation

Professional Employer Organizations(PEO’s) originated in the 1980’s to help small to mid-sized businesses better administer their HR services. Today, a standard PEO will help with anything from HR compliance, to offering a solid benefits package, and much more.

Over the last month or so I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about Professional Employer Organizations from both Michael Randazzo of Southeast Personnel Leasing, as well as Brent Johnson from Insperity. While learning the ins and outs of Professional Employer Organizations, I quickly learned there are multiple ways in which they operate. Today we’ll look at what exactly PEO’s offer as a service, and a couple different ways to examine whether or not it is a right fit versus your standard worker’s compensation set up.

What do Professional Employer Organizations do?

First of all, the two different types of professional employer organizations are the true co-employment set up, where the PEO is the employer of record for tax and worker’s compensation purposes, or the Ala-Carte Service(ASO) set up. In an ASO format, the tree service is still the formal employer, it carries a standard worker’s compensation policy through an agency such as ArboRisk, but the PEO handles your payroll and other HR needs.

Standard PEO:

– Worker’s Compensation

– Human Resources

– Benefits

– Payroll


Applicant Tracking/Onboarding

Employee Admin and Payroll

– HR/Compliance

– Benefits

Training/Performance Review

What are the pros of PEO’s?

Many small to mid-sized business owners have to wear a lot of different hats. Off-loading some of those day to day tasks such as payroll, work comp admin work, etc. may open up some time to allow you to work more on the business rather than in it. Brent, of Insperity, mentioned that there has been a significant increase in HR related claims in recent years, stating that Insperity saw 900 claims made out of over 10,000 employees. Utilizing a PEO with either the standard set up or the ASO set up could help off load potential liability and ensure you’re compliant in today’s lawsuit happy society. Last but not least, joining a PEO is essentially pooling your employee group in with other small to mid-sized businesses, so you’re likely opening yourself up to better group rates, particularly on the benefit side.


Are there any Cons?

Although you’re likely to get better rates, PEO’s typically charge an additional fee, whether it be a flat fee or a per employee per month fee, on top of your benefits, worker’s compensation, etc. That may not necessarily be a con for your business, but if you have an office staff or employee that is able to handle things like HR, payroll, worker’s comp, make sure you are weighing out the costs to pay that employee versus having a PEO take over.

The big difference from our point of view in joining a PEO is the potential for losing your experience modification factor on your worker’s compensation policy. Remember you typically need over three consecutive years of worker’s compensation premium over $4,000 per year. If your employees are moved under the PEO and you decide to hire an office person in house to replace the PEO services, you may lose that experience modification history, subject to review by the National Council on Compensation Insurance(NCCI).


PEO vs. Worker’s Compensation

If you’re not able to utilize your loss history from your time with a PEO, it may be very difficult to obtain insurance again outside of the assigned risk pool, which obviously offers higher rates. Working with an agency also allows you to have more options as they are able to shop your worker’s compensation policy out to multiple different carriers. One option would be to work with a standard insurance agency for your worker’s compensation, ideally one that specializes in your industry;), and partner with a PEO that offers the Ala-Carte Services(ASO) set up similar to what Brent has at Insperity.

That said, Michael at SouthEast Personnel Leasing in Florida has a program that is very familiar with higher risk businesses such as the tree care industry. They’ve had a lot of success with helping tree services obtain affordable worker’s compensation insurance with detailed claims management resources when they couldn’t find coverage elsewhere. It is important to remember that should a PEO like SouthEast become the employer of record, the tree service does not relinquish control of the employees day to day operations, hiring & firing, or any other necessary decisions that need to be made regarding the employee’s status.


We know managing employees, particularly in this industry, is about the toughest thing you have to do. If you’re in a position where you’re worried about HR compliance, having trouble managing your payroll, looking to offer a more competitive benefits program, or even just looking to off load some work, please reach out to me and we can discuss what would be the best fit for your company. Our ArboRisk Thrive program also has resources such as employee handbook templates and reviews, job descriptions, hiring & recruiting workbooks, and much more.

Written by: Malcolm Jeffris

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Email: info@arboriskinsurance.com

One-on-One Meetings

One-on-One Meetings

We all can agree that your employees are your most valuable asset. You rely on them to do a good job yet, the busyness of the moment many times gets in the way of having direct meetings with them.

Taking the time to make sure that your people are engaged in their jobs is one of the most important things you can do for your company. Remember, most people quit their boss, not their job and not feeling important is a primary reason they quit. One-on-One meetings can be your most powerful tool to align the employees and management.

Simple 20 minute One-on-One meetings can help immediately address these issues:

• Under Performers – those employees that are not doing the job they were hired to do. Do not wait until the annual evaluation or when you have to write them up for something they did wrong. You can turn around an employee by either engaging with them or you will realize that they just are not the right fit for the company.
• Slacking Performers – those that are not performing like they used to or you want them to. You know they can do more. These employees used to perform better but for some reason their performance has slacked.
• Absent Performers – those that are not mentally showing up. An employee that is normally happy and joking around is now sullen and withdrawn. There could be a personal issue someone is going through, or an employee that was put into a role that they really don’t like.

Steven Covey said “First Seek to understand before being understood”.
Of course, One-on-One meetings should be held with everyone, but need to follow the same framework for truly effective communication. Use the following steps to begin utilizing One-on-One meetings within your company.

1. Meeting Flow – establish what you want to accomplish, include time for 5 minutes in each of these categories.
• Connect – building report – ask questions about their life, how they are doing, let them know some things about you.
• Inspiration – understand where they want to go in their career and how you can help them get there. et expectations and goals for work – what needs to be accomplished?
• Alignment – understand what they believe their priorities are and what you believe they are and what is missing. Make sure they are aligned with the companies, make sure employees have the skills and tools to do their job.
• Feedback – get feedback on your performance. How have I been showing up for you?

2. Agenda – Create an agenda to use with everyone. It will help guide the conversation and keep the meetings similar between all employees. You can have notes on what you want to talk to the specific employee about right on the agenda. Perhaps you saw them overreact in a meeting, make a note on the agenda and ask them “how do you think you handled that situation?”

3. Skip a Level – Make sure you also connect with each level of employees so you get feedback on all employees, supervisors and front line production workers. Front line information will help you to know what is going on with the crew. This will help guide team, it can help you mentor them and shows you have a belief in that individual.

4. Connect the Future – Ensure that you are continually discussing the future within your One-on-One meetings. Use a career path diagram to explain how the individual can advance within your company. To develop a career path check out this article we wrote. Don’t let your employees get bored or uninspired by having them feel there is no chance of advancing within your company.

5. Your Performance – Not only will you be able to give critiques to the employee on their work, this is the time to let them comment on your performance. To do so, you must create a safe place for them be honest without fear of retribution. Let them know that you are only going to get better by knowing their concerns, that they are not going to hurt your feelings. Ask any combination of these questions:

a. If you were me, what is the one thing you would change in our organization?
b. How would you have handled the situation differently?
c. How am I showing up for you?
d. Is there anything in that last decision I made that you have questions about?
e. What are one or two things that would help me become a better leader for the team and yourself?

When you incorporate these five items into regular One-on-One meetings with your team members, you’ll see a drastic change in their energy, production level and overall happiness within your company. I don’t know about you, but doesn’t everyone want that within their company?

For more specific help with building the right culture within your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today.

Written by: Peggy Drescher

Hiring During Times of High Unemployment

Hiring during high times of unemployment

Hopefully, like me, many of you are trying to find the positives during this on-going pandemic. One of the positives is with the record high number of unemployed people, your recruiting efforts may have gotten a lot easier. I know that may seem counter-intuitive, however, the longer this pandemic carries on, the more willing people will be to search out a career change. If your tree service is like many that I’ve talked to in the last two months and continuing to thrive, now could be a great time to get new employees.

That said, times of high unemployment does not necessarily mean that hiring will be easier. With so many people out of work, you will be getting more applicants for an open position that you have, many of which will not be qualified to do the work. Sorting through the additional applications will obviously add extra cost to the hiring process, so if you haven’t established a hiring procedure within your tree care company, now is the time to do it.

Job Descriptions – Putting together a solid hiring process starts with having written job descriptions for every position within the company. There are many different places that you can find job description templates to get you started. Use the template and customize them to your organization.

Career Path – Once you have the job descriptions done, create a logical path that an employee could progress within your company. Make this a visual document that is easy to understand and read. We have an entire article here on career paths.

Paperwork – What forms and paperwork do you need to bring a new employee onto your team? What background checks require a signature from the prospective employee. How will you accept applications? These are all questions you need answer and prepare yourself for before opening up a position.

Interview Process – How will you be handling interviews, via phone, Zoom, in-person? There are a lot of different ways you can set up your interview process, the main concern however, is that you follow the same process. You do not want one candidate to get a perceived advantage or disadvantage because you had a variable interview process. For more ideas on the interview process read our article here.

Who Do You Want – Especially with the potential to receive many more applications than before you need to be laser focused on who you want as an employee. This could be personality characteristics, physical qualities, tree care experience, etc. Hone in on what that perfect team member will look like within your organization and write this down.

Having the right employees on your team is one of the fundamental building blocks of a tree service’s risk management program. That’s why we have been helping tree services with their hiring and recruiting efforts for years now. If you would like any more help on your hiring and recruiting efforts, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today.

Written by: Eric Petersen

Creative Benefits for Employees

Creative Benefits for Employees

I’m often asked, “Eric, what employee benefits should I be offering?” As the case with almost everything in the insurance world, my answer is “it depends”. Because the world of employee benefits is so complex, I invited Ernie Pearson of Aflac to have a conversation with me surrounding some of the more common problems that he hears from tree care owners when talking about benefits.

Problem: We are constantly understaffed and have a hard time retaining the good employees we do have.

Solution: In a very competitive hiring market with low unemployment a business needs all the tools that it can to set it apart from its competition. Quite often people are looking for a job opportunity that provides a solid benefits program and positive working environment to one that may offer a little more money.

Problem: My business is too small to qualify for group plans and I can’t afford it.

Solution: Most plans only need 3 people to establish a group and many of the plans cost less than $2 per day. Some benefits can also be offered completely voluntarily to the employees with nothing but some minor administrative time as a cost to the business. Plans can also be sold direct without the need for an employer group to be established.

Problem: I already offer health care and dental insurance so how can supplemental benefits help my business?

Solution: With rising health care costs and often high out of pocket costs for affordable plans, supplemental benefits offer options to help pay for those expenses with locked in rates. Not only that, it can allow you to scale back to a more affordable plan and provide benefits to pay those deductibles with often a lower cost to the business. Also, these supplemental plans can include a variety of things that aren’t covered under some major medical insurance policies.

Problem: One of my biggest concerns is how to keep my workers compensation rate in check.

Solution: Because tree care companies have a high potential for on-the-job injuries, they can benefit greatly from offering short term disability paired with a supplemental accident plan. The short term disability offers employees an option to collect some money in the event of an off-the-job injury without becoming a liability or “Monday morning workers compensation claim” if they come to work hurt. An accident plan will pay for injuries that happen both on and off the job, providing employees quick money in their pocket to help cover those immediate incidental costs that arise.

Problem: My employees aren’t interested in benefits, all they want is more money.

Solution: Without properly educating employees on what our benefits can do for them, they almost always want more money today. Tailoring your benefit plans specifically to the needs of each employee, will provide solutions to the gaps in their insurance and still allow them to decline if that’s what they choose. As far as more money goes, statistically speaking, employees only remember a raise for about 24 hours.

So get creative when looking at employee benefits as there is no one-size fits all answer for the benefit question! If you have further questions regarding what employee benefits you should be looking, contact an ArboRisk team member today or contact Ernie Pearson directly at 920-858-7505 or ernie_pearson@us.aflac.com.

Written by: Eric Petersen with special guest, Ernie Pearson, of Aflac